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CD REVIEW: Catherine Duc - Visions and Dreams
By JJ Biener - 02/11/2006 - 06:04 PM EST

Artist: Catherine Duc
Album: Visions and Dreams
CD Review: Catherine Duc
Visions and Dreams

The technology revolution had made it possible for musicians to produce CDís in their home studios for a very modest cost. What once took hundreds of thousands of dollars can now be done with just a few thousand dollars of hardware and software and a spare bedroom. While technology has made it possible, it has yet to make it easy. The home recording musician has to struggle with such things as hardware problems, software bugs, upgrades, and compatibility, as well as microphone techniques, mixing, mastering and all the things required to put a CD together. The musician must take on the role of producer, engineer, technician, and sound designer before ever producing a note of music. In the interest of full disclosure, this is precisely what I have done, and I can attest to fact that is difficult, frustrating and time consuming.

With the all the possible pitfalls inherent in composing, recording and producing a CD, it makes Catherine Ducís CD Visions and Dreams that much more remarkable. While touching on Celtic, New Age and Ambient genres, Catherine has produced a series of pieces that embody the best aspects of each of these styles. They are well written, well produced and they are accessible to the casual listener.

The opening track, Essence of Dreams, sets the mood for the CD and draws the listener in for the duration. The beat is solid and dependable. Shifting layers of sound are then built upon that foundation. Each layer has its own sonic and physical space within the mix so that nothing is obscured. The melody shifts from instrument to instrument while maintaining continuity and coherence. It is a majestic piece.

Evocation was obviously inspired by artists like Enigma and Deep Forest. It makes use of female vocal sounds to produce a haunting, sensual texture beneath the melody line. As with the above-mentioned artists, the driving beat, while subdued, keeps the listener from drifting away from the music.

Midsummer Twilight brings together electronic and acoustic elements into a well-integrated whole. Neither natural nor the artificial overpowers the other. They meld together until it becomes difficult to distinguish one from the other. The piece glides effortlessly like a canoe through a still lake.

If one wanted to find something to criticize about Catherine Ducís work, it could be argued that she relies too heavily on stock synth sounds and they tend to be a bit clichť for her genre. As a keyboard player, I recognize that the sounds themselves are not terribly original, but when it comes right down to it, I donít care. It is what she does with the sounds that I find to be more important, and in that regard she shines. She consistently constructs musical pieces of depth and complexity that capture the imagination and compel the listenerís attention. I will be looking for more from her in the future.

If you would like more information and to hear some samples of her work, visit her web site at

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